FIFA shows concerns on World Cup

FIFA said on Thursday it has some concerns about South Africa's preparations for the 2010 World Cup.

updated: November 23, 2007 11:58 IST
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Durban, South Africa:

FIFA said on Thursday it has some concerns about South Africa's preparations for the 2010 World Cup, while stressing there was no "red light" - for now - to getting venues ready on time.

In the run-up to Sunday's preliminary draw for the World Cup, a two-week strike by construction workers at Durban's new soccer stadium raised concerns about delays at several sites, but FIFA said the situation was under control.

"For sure we are looking at what is happening," FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said. But, he added, "We are still on track today."

"For the time being there is no red light. There are some concerns on some stadiums," he said.

Striking workers had threatened to disrupt Sunday's preliminary draw.

Danny Jordaan, the head of the 2010 local organizing committee, said he was convinced workers would not threaten the deadlines for finishing stadiums, even though some lag behind schedule.

"We will not fail the delivery of stadiums on time," he said. "We don't doubt the commitment of the workers to make up time."

However, he did not question the right to strike.

"The point is there are always competing interests," Jordaan said. "We have a duty to deliver to FIFA all infrastructure on time."

The deadline for completion of World Cup venues is October 2009, while the five stadiums for the June 2009 Confederations Cup have to be ready by next October.

South Africa was awarded the 2010 World Cup three years ago. Since then, there have been concerns about delays in stadium and infrastructure construction, lack of public transport, and the high crime rate.

Jordaan said runaway costs were forcing organizers to reassess the budget and could lead to spending cuts.

"Does it constitute a crisis? Definitely not," Jordaan said.

A group of experts is currently investigating where cuts can be made, and a report will be presented to the board of the organizing committee on Friday. Budgets have been affected by the price of steel and the exchange rate.

The South African government is investing some 40 billion rand (US$5.9 billion; 4 billion) in the World Cup, including 17.4 billion rand (US$2.6 billion; 1.76 billion) in stadiums, transport and supporting infrastructure.